PHILADELPHIA -- If it weren't for the warmup jacket,
Aggressive yet successful baserunning is a Phillies staple, and after
"I wouldn't exactly call that blowing," Perlozzo said of Oswalt's sub-sprinter speed.
The play was close at the plate -- Perlozzo noted that Oswalt would have been "extremely out" if Giants centerfielder
"We're pretty aggressive on the bases, but we're smart, too," rightfielder
OK, so Oswalt's running wasn't smart. He admitted after the game that he didn't see the stop sign until he was halfway to home plate -- "I said it's too late now, no turning back," he noted after the game.
But Oswalt, who allowed just one run and three hits in eight innings, said he felt like he read it well off the bat. That's the confident running style that first-base coach
"We don't think that way," Lopes said. "My job is to eliminate that thought process. If you've got that kind of thought process, you don't run. You get thrown out. That is not even part of our game. No."
For two years running, the Phillies have led the NL in highest stolen-base percentage, fewest number of outs made on the bases and greatest percentage of baseunners scoring. They also led in stolen-base rate in 2007 and '08, exceeding Lopes' goal of 80 percent success in each of his four years on the Phillies' staff.
The Phillies' second run was aided by aggressive baserunning without the need of a steal.
Right after Oswalt's run in the seventh, Utley was on second and Polanco on first. During a San Francisco pitching change, Lopes noted to Polanco that lefthanded reliever
"When you get into the playoffs -- I'm not saying you don't do it in the regular season -- but especially in a short series, you have to put as much pressure as you can on the pitcher and the defense," Lopes said. "If you can do that by running, it makes things a little more difficult for the opposition."
Significant credit for the Phillies' running success belongs to Lopes' instruction, and he admits he has a good situation with an organization that believes in running, a manager in
Lopes, who had 557 career stolen bases in 16 seasons as a player with the Dodgers, A's, Cubs and Astros, has become an expert at reading pitchers' tells that indicate when they throw to the plate and when they may throw to first base. He said some pitchers only take two minutes to crack. Others may take six or seven and some are indecipherable, and he just tips his cap. Those aren't many.
"A lot of teams just run," Lopes said. "They guess. I like to take the risk factor out."
It could get even better if he gets his wish for an additional camera positioned in the first-base photographers' well, which would replicate a runner's vantage point of the pitcher. That, he said, would further aid his ability to break down pitchers.
The Giants, meanwhile, managed only six baserunners in eight innings off Oswalt, whose one mistake was a fastball down and in to
Oswalt pounded the strike zone with a fastball that, he said, "had a lot of run on it." He salvaged a home split for the Phillies after
His 6-12 record in the first half of the season with the Astros was deceiving, as his ERA was only 3.42. After the trade he was 7-1 with a 1.74 ERA -- with the Phillies winning 10 of his 12 full starts -- and his overall season WHIP of 1.03 led the NL.
"You read stuff, as far as age stuff goes, and last year I only won eight games but had 16 no-decisions," Oswalt said. "I came out of a lot of games we could have won, but it just didn't happen. People just look straight at the numbers and not at the games that you pitched and write their opinions. I tried to use that going into the season. In my first 10 or 12 starts, I had a chance to win every one of them, and I think I only won three."
But one thing he should be glad about is that anyone who just looks at the box score of Sunday night's game will see that he scored a run in the seventh inning, without understanding how perilous and precarious that run was.
His pitching performance, however, more than offset the potential blunder and ensured he didn't receive a rebuke from his baserunning coach.
"As long as he keeps giving [up] one run in eight innings," Lopes said, "he can do whatever he wants."